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COMPLAINT: Singapore Airlines - Lost Baggage Fiasco

 
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 7:21 AM
Markaa Markaa is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 1

My complaint was quite startling - Singapore airlines has a big reputation for customer service, but the saga I detail below suggests that they really do not have any real concern. Perhaps I am unlucky, but perhaps not. All I know, is that they treated me terribly.

I will give a summary of the events:

1. Due to a poor connection, my baggage did not follow me from Singapore to Bangkok
2. On arrival at Bangkok, I was informed my luggage had not followed and was given compensation. I then gave the details of my itenerary to the lost baggage service. Even though I gave all the documentation to the person, they got the details wrong.
3. The next morning I went to Myanmar, and informed them of the errors in the itinerary.
4. Over the next few days, I was informed that my baggage was going to arrive, or had arrived in Myanmar.
5. It never arrived. I chased this up, my hotel in Myanmar tried to chase up where it was. In the meantime, Singapore airlines failed to do anything, despite complaints. My partner called from New Zealand - no action to recover my baggage. In fact, they stopped answering the phone, and refused to talk to her.
6. I was finally informed about the location of my baggage after several days in Rangoon, the evening before I was due to leave the country. The baggage had been in the country for most of the time, but nobody could tell me how to pick it up. I finally picked up the baggage on my departure from the country.

The plan for Myanmar was that I would spend one day in Rangoon, then travel up country to visit some nice places. Instead, I was stuck in Rangoon waiting for my baggage to arrive. The response from Singapore airlines was to do absolutely nothing to return my baggage to me during my time in Rangoon. They just did nothing. However, the devil is in the detail, and I have copied all the correspondence and timeline of what happened below.

In short, they ruined my holiday, and showed no care for this. The process of my complaint was handled badly at the time, and just as badly when I put the complaint to the airline after the saga had finished. They wrecked my holiday. They offered to pay for the cost of phone calls, some of my hotel cost in Rangoon and a 10% flight discount on my next Singapore airlines flight. I asked for them to fly me to Thailand so that I could have the holiday that they wrecked for me. They stuck with the original offer. Have a look below, and see what you think?

As a note, I was polite throughout, and dealt with everyone with courtesy.

You be the judge of whether this is the service for which Singapore Airlines are so famous. Perhaps complacent and living on their reputation? I am sorry that the saga is long, but it is a case study in useless service, and useless handling of complaints.


Mark.


Note: all uses of my name and email are now changed to ‘mark’ so the airline is not being rude – they referred to me politely as Mr. [surname]

-----------------------------------------------


22 July 2012

Dear Ms. Horgan,

I am writing to you to complain about the way in which a problem with baggage was handled by your company. I am aware that you take pride in your customer service, and would like to ask whether my experience fits with that ethos.

The problem arose as a result of my flight SQ298, 12 July, arriving late in Singapore, which meant that the baggage transfer to flight SQ978, 12 July, did not take place. The baggage was checked through to Bangkok. On arrival in Bangkok, I was met at the gate by a member of airport staff, who informed me that my baggage had not been sent on the flight. I was then taken to the Star Alliance missing baggage service, and gave all the details to allow the baggage to be forwarded to me. I was spending one evening in Bangkok, before flying out early the next morning to Myanmar. As such, I gave the person dealing with my case the following:

  • A copy of my hotel bookings for Bangkok, and for Myanmar
  • A handwritten copy of my home address in New Zealand.

It was apparent at the time that there was some confusion/doubt over when the baggage would be arriving in Bangkok. However, I was relatively unconcerned at this stage, confident that the situation was in hand. I was given some compensation for the inconvenience, and went to my hotel. I was not sure whether my baggage would arrive that evening or not, as the person dealing with the case could give me no clear answer.

From this point on, things took a turn for the worse. I have detailed together the chronology (see below) of what has taken place, and you should read through it. There are several points of note:

  • The baggage was always on the point of arrival
  • Lack of clear information
  • Poor response times at the end of the saga, and no response to my complaints

The consequences for me need to be put in context. My trip to Myanmar was a holiday, and I intended to just stay one night in Yangon, then travel to some more interesting places. However, the consequences of my bags being ‘about to arrive’ are as follows:

  • I did not spend money on buying clothes, as I would presumably be unable to claim for them when I knew the baggage was going to arrive. Also, why would I when the baggage was about to arrive?
  • More importantly, I was unable to travel, whilst waiting for my baggage to arrive, as I was not staying anywhere long enough to have it forwarded further into Myanmar. It was also vital that I recovered my baggage, as following this trip I am going to present a paper at a conference in Korea, and need things included in my baggage to prepare for the presentation.

As such, the imminent arrival of the baggage tied me to my hotel in Yangon. Had I not been told that my baggage was arriving/had arrived, I could have just spent some money on clothes, made a claim from you, enjoyed my holiday and sorted out the baggage later.

The oddest thing about all of this is that my baggage was never actually been lost. It was in Yangon the whole time with Thai Airways. Your company was simply unable to arrange the delivery, or even inform me about how to pick it up, or even inform me that it was with Thai Airways to I could arrange to pick it up myself. Most importantly, it was the ongoing prospect of the arrival of the baggage that prevented me from moving on to enjoy my holiday, and the general failure of communication that made a bad situation worse.

I would like to give you a comparison. Whilst your company showed absolutely no interest in retrieving my baggage, my hotel in Myanmar spent half an hour trying to track down my baggage in the airport (I was there whilst they made the phone calls). They were not responsible, but were concerned for one of their guests. How does this concern compare with your organisation’s lack of concern, when the problem and fault was yours? You may wish to think about this.

In the meantime, I have had my holiday ruined. As I stress in my emails below, it is all the holiday I will have for a long while. I have just completed the most intense period of work in my life. Perhaps the most striking thing that should be apparent in the communications and sorry saga of recovering my baggage is this:

Nobody in your company seemed to have any interest in the issue of returning my baggage to me.

I mean no interest whatsoever. The baggage was always there, and even the smallest of efforts would undoubtedly have located the baggage, and nothing was done to help me. The lack of interest has continued even after I finally retrieved my baggage, and my complaints have gone unanswered.

This letter and chronology is an adaptation of an earlier version sent to the Singapore airlines feedback service.

Yours Sincerely,

Mark.






Chronology:

13 July: On arrival in Myanmar, I checked into my hotel, and later checked the Star Alliance baggage tracker to find out the status of my baggage and found this:

Permanent [misspelt home address] NEWZEALAND
Temporary WORABURI HTL SUKHUMVIT RD TEL 022560890 TIL 13JUL
THAMADA HOTEL TEL 951243639 WEST CETRAL YANGON MYANMAR
Passenger will be at this address until 13JUL
Delivery Info TBF RGN A/P


It was filled with errors. I was apparently both in Thailand and Myanmar on the same day. My home address was also wrong.

I tried to find a way to contact the Star Alliance lost baggage service, but there is no way to do so. I could find no way to correct the above error filled description. As such, I sent the following to Star Alliance:


From: mark
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 9:03 AM
To: Star Alliance Helpdesk
Cc: mark
Subject: Complaints

Customer Information
---------------------------------------------------------------

E-mail Address: mark
First Name: Mark
Last name:
FrequentFlyerProgramme:
Airline : Singapore Airlines

Customer message
---------------------------------------------------------------

Lost baggage file reference BKKSQ18695: I am now in Rangoon, at the hotel Thamada. Please send the my lost luggage here - expecting it today.
You may note the short length of my message. For some reason, there is no ability to write more than a few characters when using the online message service. This is all I could fit into the allowance. Why allow for so few characters? The reply was useless. All of the information is available in the file reference that I gave in my message, but it seems that Star Alliance does not know its own systems: Dear Mark,

Thank you for writing to us at the Star Alliance Help Desk.

As all operational matters are handled by the airlines directly, we would like to forward your feedback to concerned Airline office.Before we do that, we will require your journey details. Please write back with the following information:

- First & Last Name:
- Journey date
- Operating carrier
- Flight Details
- Ticket/PNR number
- contact details
- Travelling to & from Location
- Synopsis of concern

We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your patience.

Regards,
Star Alliance Help Desk
STAR ALLIANCE
THE WAY THE EARTH CONNECT
I also thought that I might contact your airline, as I was aware of your priding yourselves on good customer service. This was my first email to you.



From: mark
To: [email protected]
Subject: Lost Baggage
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2012 03:41:58 +0000
Dear Sir/Madam,

Ref Lost baggage file Number: BKKSQ18695

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have just opened the online service to find the status of my lost luggage and found this very bad and confusing description:
Permanent [misspelt home address] NEWZEALAND
Temporary WORABURI HTL SUKHUMVIT RD TEL 022560890 TIL 13JUL
THAMADA HOTEL TEL 951243639 WEST CETRAL YANGON MYANMAR
Passenger will be at this address until 13JUL
Delivery Info TBF RGN A/P

The information is wrong for my home address, and I am now at Hotel Thamada. I would like my luggage sent here.

I am very annoyed at this poor service. It is filled with errors, but I even gave the person who I dealt with at Bangkok Airport all of my hotel booking confirmation to ensure he got them right. He has even put in my home address incorrectly.

It really is not a good service. I am now in Yangon with no luggage, and am not sure when it will arrive, or whether it will be going to the correct place. I am not happy with this.

Mark



If I have my chronology of events correctly, I was later sent the following email:




> Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2012 11:14:22 +0000
> From: [email protected]
> To: MARK
> Subject: REF DELAYED BAG BKKSQ18695
>
> TI- DEAR MR.mark X PLEASE BE INFORMED THAT YOUR BAG
> FORWARDED TO RGN AIRPORT BY TG305/13JUL X WILL ARRIVE
> RGN AT 1845HRS. X THANK YOU
>
>
> THIS IS AN AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED SYSTEM MESSAGE, PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS.




I also received this from your company a little later:

> From: [email protected]
> Subject: Re: FW: Lost Baggage
> To: MARK
> Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2012 16:39:48 +0800Dear Mr.Mark,

Thank you for your feedback regarding to your delay baggage when travelled with us recently.

As we have direct email you yesterday your bag was forwarded to you on TG305/13JUL, arrival 1845HRS. local time. Hopefully you will be returned your bag also in good condition soon in Yangon.

Once again please accept our sincere apologies for your all inconvenience caused.


Best regards,

Suwajee S.
Baggage Service / Singapore Airlines Bangkok

However, no baggage had arrived. I sent the following message:



From: mark
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Lost Baggage
Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2012 11:34:32 +0000

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your email.

I have still not received my baggage. I am sitting right now in a hotel in Yangon, when I should be in another place.

To say that, at this stage, I am furious is an understatement. I have just completed a PhD, and in the last 4 months, I have worked 7days a week, 12 hours a day, without break to finish my PhD. I am about to start a new job. This was my only holiday. Instead of gently sailing down a river to go to see a beautiful place, I am instead stuck in a hotel in Yangon, with no more clean clothes, and no way that I will be able to do any of the things that I planned for. I had a total of 5 days holiday here. If I am lucky, I may be able to go to just one of the places I planned for - for one day, and at far greater expense than I planned.

You say that the bag was forwarded here on 13 July, 18:45. But it is still not here, and this is what the useless Star Alliance website says:

-----------------------
RECEIVED AT AIRPORT / DELIVERY PROCESS INITIATE
-------------------

I have had people in my hotel chasing this in Yangon, and my partner has been chasing this up from New Zealand. Still no baggage.

It does not seem difficult. The bag was never lost. You knew where it was, and why it did not arrive in Bangkok. You identified the bag. You then just had to send it to a hotel in Yangon. It is not difficult.

If I am very lucky and there are any air tickets left, I might, just might be able to go to Bagan tomorrow for just one day. That's it. That is my trip to Myanmar.

Where is my baggage?

Mark


Please note that both my hotel and partner were trying to find the baggage, and identify what was going on. The hotel was in contact with the airport, my partner with your company, but with no answers. This is why I was angry.


This was the reply from your company:


> From: [email protected]
> Subject: RE: Lost Baggage
> To: MARK> Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2012 00:51:32 +0800Dear Mr.Mark,

Thank you for your email advise us you still not receive your bag there in Yangon. Your friend trunk called us from New Zealand this evening as you mentioned. We are truly sorry once again that you have still not returned your bag even we have sent down to you on TG315/13Jul yesterday. And TG315 departed on time out of Bangkok.

We are now chasing with TG / Yangon office if your bag holding with them.
We will definitely keep you informed once we have any finding.


Best regards,

Suwajee S.
Baggage Service / Singapore Airlines Bangkok
There was still no sign of my baggage, so I sent the following email:
From: mark
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Lost Baggage
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2012 02:27:19 +0000Dear Sir/Madam,

I now have the problem that I need to check out of my current hotel at midday, as there are no rooms available. I am aware that there are very few rooms available in Yangon at present. As I stated in my last email, I had planned to go away to other areas as part of my trip.

Here is my new dilemma - do I book another night here, or do I (at great expense) fly up to another part of the country for one day, assuming I am able to buy a ticket. Just for one day? Is it worth it - but I have come so far and spent so much money to see this country? This is the problem that I am faced with. At this stage, any sense of enthusiasm has now diminished, having spent most of the last few days waiting on baggage that was 'about to arrive'.

In the meantime, you still have given me no firm for the delivery of the baggage, and I am unable to plan.

If you are not getting the picture yet, just imagine if you had come this far to see a country, and instead are left waiting around in hotels waiting on luggage.

On my way out here, I told the cabin crew that I had chosen your airline over the competition despite their offer of a better itinerary - I thought you were a good airline. What do you think I think now?

Mark


A little later, I was forced to make a decision. I was aware that there are very, very few hotels in Yangon, and checked online to see the status of available rooms using Agoda.com. There were almost no rooms available, so I gave up any hope of getting out of Yangon, and booked a room, and sent the following:




From: mark
To: [email protected]
Subject: URGENT ! Lost Baggage
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2012 03:07:41 +0000
Dear Sir/Madam,

I have ended up having to book another hotel for my stay here, as follows:
Inya Lake Hotel

37 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Inya Lake, Yangon, Myanmar


I will be booking in at about midday today. You urgently need to update the destination for the bag delivery.

Mark


This morning (16 July), I had not received any reply to even acknowledge the new hotel location, any update, or anything at all, so I sent the following:



From: mark
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Lost Baggage
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2012 02:39:00 +0000

Dear Sir/Madam,

Further to my last emails, the bagagge has still not arrived at my hotel, and my frustration and anger is only increasing.

I had a high regard for your airline, but the regard is rapidly transitioning to disdain.

I now have such doubts about your ability to recover and deliver my baggage in Myanmar, that I now give the remainder of my itinerary for this trip, to try to allow you to return my baggage to me. Please note that, on arrival in Korea, I am presenting a paper at a conference. There are vital things I need for the presentation in the baggage that has not been returned, as well as clothing I need to be able to look respectable as I attend the conference.

Itenerary:

Depart Yangon- Bangkok: 17 July 18:05, Air Asia Flight FD3773

Depart Bangkok - Singapore: 18 July, 09:40, Singapore Airlines Flight SQ973

Depart Singapore - Seoul: 18 July, 14:30, Singapore Airlines Flight SQ602

Depart Seoul - Singapore: 25 July, 09:00, Singapore Airlines Flight SQ607

Depart Singapore - Christchurch: 25 July, 7:45, Singapore Airlines Flight SQ297

I added in the flights from Korea back home to New Zealand as a final precaution, but also to emphasise that I have used Singapore Airlines for this entire trip. My last travel overseas on a trip to China was the same - Singapore airlines. I am not sure whether I mentioned this before, but I chose your airline in preference to using an airline with a more convenient itinerary. I did this because of my previous positive experience with your airline.

Previously, I have had no problems with your airline, but the real test of any organisation is how they approach things when they go wrong. You are failing dismally to rectify the problems that you have created. As a comparison, I recently signed up with an Internet broadband service, and they messed up the application, such that there was potentially a period of time when I would have no service. Their efforts to fix their mistake were so impressive that I have now persuaded several people to use their service.

You have not acknowledged my last email regarding the change of hotel. You have given me no date/time for actually returning my luggage to me. The worst part of all of this is that the luggage was never actually lost. You have known where it is at all times. In the meantime, your failure to deliver, the useless information from Star Alliance, have all added together to make my holiday a non-holiday.

I ask two simple questions:

1. When will you return my baggage to me?
2. What are you going to do about the fact that I have had my holiday ruined by this farce?

Mark


On the afternoon of 16 July, I contacted my partner, and she chased up the situation on my behalf with your organisation. This is what she had to say in an email updating me:

“she said she'd call back in 15 minutes. An hour later, I called back three different numbers, about 4/5 times each - no one is picking up”. Since returning to New Zealand, I have found out that when she called, people would hang up on her when she informed them of who she is, and why she was calling. She was also left on hold for long periods when people did talk to her, and spent a fortune on international calls.

The following was the status of my baggage according to the Star Alliance baggage tracking service at 4pm Myanmar time, 16 July:



RECEIVED AT AIRPORT / DELIVERY PROCESS INITIATED


It is the same message that has been there for a couple of days.

It gets worse. At 7pm on 17 July, the hotel where I am staying has informed me that I should call a Mr. Tin Htun to discuss collection of my baggage. I checked my email, and I find these emails:



> From: [email protected]
> Subject: RE: Lost Baggage
> To: MARK
> Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2012 17:22:23 +0800

Dear Mr.Mark,

So sorry for my late response. We acknowledged your hotel changed to Inya Lake Hotel in Yangon. TG / Yangon already confirmed us your bag safely with them at the airport. We afraid that your bag may stuck there due customs clearance at the airport and caused bag not to be delivered to your hotel. Our TG Yangon office can be contact at 951 533172 / 951 662384. We have remind them to call you at Inya Lake hotel to follow up with you directly.


Best regards,

Suwajee S.
Baggage Service / Singapore Airlines Bangkok




> Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2012 10:39:20 +0000
> From: [email protected]
> To: MARK
> Subject: PROPERTY IRREGULARITY REPORT - AHL BKKSQ18695/12JUL12/1340GMT
DEAR MR MARK PLS BE INFORM THAT YR BAG NOW HOLD AT
RGN A/P X WUD U PLS KINDLY COLLECT BAG THERE AS FR CUSTOM
FOMALITY BAG CANNT DLVR TO U X PLS CTC RGN TG OFFC//THKS***PROPERTY IRREGULARITY REPORT
THAI AIRWAYS INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED
BAGGAGE SERVICE OFFICE TEL 02 134-5466/67/68
WEBSITE FOR BAGGAGE TRACING STATUS DISPLAY




FILE REFERENCE - BKKSQ18695/12JUL12/1340GMT
NAME - /MARK/
TITLE/INITIALS - MAA/
FLIGHT/DATE - SQ298/12JUL/SQ978/12JUL/
NUMBER OF BAGS - 1
TICKET NUMBER - ETKT
COLOUR/TYPE - BK29XXX
TAG NUMBER - NZ421027/

PLEASE RETAIN PASSENGER TICKET AND BAGGAGE CHECK. THIS
REPORT DOES NOT INVOLVE ANY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF LIABILITY.



PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL



So it seems that my baggage has been here all the time. Just to add insult to injury, the useless Star Alliance tracking service is still reporting:

RECEIVED AT AIRPORT / DELIVERY PROCESS INITIATED


But there was no delivery, as I needed to pick the baggage up by myself. I finally got the news late in the afternoon on the day in which I was leaving Myanmar. I tried calling the numbers in the email given by you, but there was no answer.

I also was given a message by my hotel which informed me that I needed to contact Thai Airways to recover my baggage. This was the first time that I had been informed that Thai Airways were involved. I was given a name and contact number, and I tried this. The person was unavailable. I was given a later time to call, and he was still unavailable. I asked the person who asked the phone to simply tell me how I might recover my baggage, but they were unable to answer. I had to call again later in the evening, and again the person I needed to speak with was unavailable. This time I insisted someone told me how to recover my baggage. I finally got the answer which was to pick up the baggage from the Thai Airways office in the airport.

As it was late in the evening on the day before I was leaving Myanmar, I decided to pick up my baggage on my way out of Myanmar.

As such, I finally picked up my baggage on the 18th, as I left Myanmar. I went to the Thai Airways office. There was no customs clearance, no formalities. I simply picked up the baggage. I was informed that the baggage had arrived on the 13th July, and had been in Yangon for the whole time.

Note that there were no customs problems. The baggage has always been there. Also note that I emailed the following complaint on the 17th, before I had found out that my baggage had arrived, and have had no response. Note the date of the email.





From: mark
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: Lost Baggage
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2012 03:46:47 +0000


Dear Sir/Madam,

I am hoping to pick my baggage up as I leave Myanmar today.

I have asked you previously about what you are going to do about the terrible way in which this has been handled by your company. An apology is simply not good enough. You have ruined my holiday, and I am not satisfied with just an apology.

Mark


I have had no reply whatsoever.

I later sent an email, with an earlier copy of this letter to your feedback service as follows:



From: mark
To: [email protected]
Subject: Lost Baggage - complaint
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2012 23:01:28 +0000
Dear Sir/Madam,

Please find attached a letter of complaint. I insist that this is handled in person by your head of customer services, as I am sure that he/she will be unaware of the terrible service that your airline offers with regards to lost baggage.

I look forward to an early reply,

Regards,

Mark



Again, I have had no reply and/or acknowledgement. In light of this, on my return to New Zealand on the 24th July, I asked to see a representative of your airline at Singapore airport. I initially met with a young lady and informed her of the sorry saga of my baggage. She suggested that I speak with a manager. I then spoke with the duty manager called Mr. Sivanathan. He showed no interest, and no concern whatsoever. In fact he mentioned in his conversation the following:

  • That you get so many complaints that it might be a two months before I get a response.
  • He is a handling agent, and can therefore do nothing whatsoever to help me. Basically, it was not his problem.

He offered nothing except to say that he would ask that my complaint letter should be dealt with. I am not sure that he even apologised in the conversation for the trouble that I have had.

Today, July 26th, I called your New Zealand offices and Karina kindly gave me your contact details.

It is at this point that I have written this letter to you.

Last edited by Markaa; Aug 16, 2012 at 7:23 AM. Reason: Removal of personal information
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 9:43 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Completely shocking... This i s what happens when no-one takes personal responsibilty to take a problem to resolution. Outrageous.
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